Joshua Becker on Becoming Minimalist wrote this post, discussing why we buy many times more things than we need. Just before I opened the post I considered the title and decided that the the answer to the why had something to do with the search for security or perhaps prevention of loss. The extension to me of buying excessively with hoarding, filling your home with enough stuff to put a barrier between you and the outside world.
The writer agrees that looking for security in an uncertain world where little is guaranteed is one of the seven reasons but I was interested in the suggestion that we are more susceptible to advertising than we believe. I was of the opinion that advertising can be counter-productive at times. Sometimes it is because of simple excessive repetition. A commercial that was mildly amusing the first two times becomes infuriatingly nausea inducing to the point that, after the fiftieth repetition, I feel to compelled to swear that I will never buy this product, not if it was the last one on earth. Stores advertising Christmas in September have a similar effect.
But it seems I am not as resistant as I like to believe. More subtle advertising, like product placement, worms its way into our subconscious to the extent that we do not attribute our desire for a certain product to advertising but manage to convince ourselves that our purchasing acumen is the reason. The product is superior and it is something we need. We independently made that decision. But it isn't so, at least not very often. The New York Times detailed some of the ways we are barraged:
"Advertisers seem determined to fill every last one of them. Supermarket eggs have been stamped with the names of CBS television shows. Subway turnstiles bear messages from Geico auto insurance. Chinese food cartons promote Continental Airways. US Airways is selling ads on motion sickness bags. And the trays used in airport security lines have been hawking Rolodexes."
It's not that we crack open an egg with a television program on it and tell ourselves: "I must watch that show tonight." Maybe that works for a minority. But more likely, after a few dozen eggs, we somehow recognize the program name on the television guide and pause briefly in our scrolling. Is that enough? Sometimes it is.